Rapidly Rising Temperatures Cause Concern for Older Adults

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Home Instead Senior Care offers tips to protect seniors during record-breaking heat

Summer is here, and warmer weather is the perfect time for families to enjoy outdoor activities such as gardening and picnics. However, for seniors, extreme temperatures during the summer months can pose health risks. In fact, the CDC notes that adults 65 and older do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature, making them more vulnerable to heat-related health problems such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn and heat rash.

“June through September is when most families plan trips and spend extended periods of time outdoors,” said Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead Senior Care. “It’s important for older adults to participate in these family activities, while taking the steps necessary to ensure their comfort and safety. Be sure your loved one takes frequent indoor breaks, carries and properly stores medications, and wears light colored clothing.”    

Home Instead encourages families to take the following steps to help keep their loved ones safe this summer:

  • Make sure your aging loved one takes preventive health measures – like preparing for summer heat exposure by choosing protective clothing. Mayo Clinic recommends wearing loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to allow the body to better cool itself naturally. Adding a broad-brimmed hat or cap can also help keep internal temperatures low and protect from sunburn – a condition that heightens the risk of heat stroke by reducing the skin’s ability to regulate heat.
  • Plan ahead to avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day. Many activities such as running errands or visiting friends and family members should be scheduled for the morning or evening hours, when temperatures are lower, and the sun is less intense. If the time cannot be adjusted, stay hydrated and rest frequently in a cool area to avoid the increased risk of overheating.
  • Pay attention to symptoms of heat-related health problems. The University of Connecticut found that older adults are the most susceptible demographic to dehydration due to reduced kidney function that occurs naturally as we age, as well as the frequent use of diuretics often taken for high blood pressure. Be aware of muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches, constipation or impaired memory or concentration function, which can signal dehydration. Also watch for the symptoms of heat stroke; high body temperature, confusion or slurred speech, flushed skin, rapid breathing and a headache.
  • Take action to cool someone experiencing heat-related symptoms. Once a symptom is identified, immediate action is critical to treat the senior and prevent escalation. Mayo Clinic shares three steps: get the person in the shade, indoors and out of the heat, remove any excess clothing to help the body breathe and cool the person with whatever means available (e.g., place a wet towel on the person’s head, neck or armpits or submerge the individual in cool water).
  • Monitor and/or assist with medications. According to a survey conducted by Home Instead, many seniors taking five or more prescription medications admit challenges in managing their medications. Education is key to managing medications more efficiently and avoiding any mishaps. This is particularly important during the summer months, as some prescribed medications may affect a senior’s natural ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat. Talk with your senior and their doctor about any increased risks connected to medications.

Additional free family resources and additional information on summer safety tips for seniors, visit https://www.caregiverstress.com/

ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE

Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 80 million hours of care annually throughout the United States and 11 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 90,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources.

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Dan Wieberg
Home Instead Senior Care
+1 (402) 575-5970
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